Australia's historic return spoiled by a flat Pindi Stadium pitch

Only a collective of 11 wickets have fallen in 299 overs bowled by Pakistan and Australia bowlers

Australia's historic return spoiled by a flat Pindi Stadium pitch PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Pakistan welcomed Australia to their backyard after 24 long years. This time period saw the game evolve, adapt, and revolutionize in many ways. However, one thing that was constant was the poor curation of pitches in Pakistan.

It might be a little harsh to claim that the pitch conditions in Pakistan are poor but the standards have certainly not been up to the international requirements.

The sub-continent pitches often offer huge value to spinners but the trend in Pakistan has shifted in the last couple of years.

In comparison to the Test matches in India and Sri Lanka, Pakistan pitches have offered the most value in the last three years.

Here is a comparison of wickets taken by pacers as compared to spinners between 2019 and 2021.

Tests in Pakistan

  • Pace: 89 wickets at 29.6
  • Spin: 48 wickets at 39.4

Tests in Sri Lanka

  • Pace: 65 wickets at 37
  • Spin: 179 wickets at 31.5

Tests in India

  • Pace: 150 wickets at 26.3
  • Spin: 258 wickets at 27.7

Prior to the start of the series, former Pakistan cricketer-turned-commentator Bazid Khan warned Australia from picking a 'spin heavy' bowling attack.

Bazid's statements were heavily based on the aforementioned trend. However, the trend remained nonexistent during the first Test between Pakistan and Australia.

Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has always been renowned for offering a bit of everything to everyone; this included top-order batsmen, middle-order ones, spinners, seamers, and pacers.

Contrary to the reputation, the Pindi pitch has left everyone in a state of confusion.

"Pakistan waited 23 years for Australia to visit, and then produced a pitch that looks like it might have stayed behind from Australia's trip 33 years ago," wrote Osman Sammuddin on his social media.

Lack of Help for Pacers

Seeing Australia assign Cameron Green the role to roughen up the ball with cross-seam deliveries on the first day of the Test match screams that the pitch did not offer anything for the pacers.

Earlier today, no play was possible in the first session due to the wet outfield. The play resumed at 1 pm, which meant that a maximum of 67 overs were to be played on Day 4.

This meant that Australia had to change their approach; score rather quickly to stand any hope of getting an outcome from the match. The shift meant Australia would lose quick wickets and that is exactly what happened as Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head departed rather quickly after the play finally resumed.

Had the rain not impacted the Test match, the collective wickets fallen at the end of Day 4 would have been a lot less than 11 from 299 overs.

With that out of the way, here's a comparison of how those 11 wickets are shared amongst the bowlers:

Australia: The Aussies dismissed 4 batters and one of them was a run-out. From the remaining three wickets, Mitchell Starc took one whereas the other two were picked up by Nathon Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne.

Pakistan: At the end of Day 4, Pakistan bowlers have managed to dismiss 7 Australian batsmen. Nauman Ali popped off with a four-for whereas Sajid Ali dismissed the dangerous David Warner. Pacers Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi picked up a wicket each.

  • Total overs: 299
  • Total wickets: 11
    • Taken by Spinners: 7
    • Taken by Pacers: 3

Former Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir labeled the pitch conditions as "unfavorable" for the bowlers whereas Ayaz Memon shared his thoughts on the pitch and wrote on his social media: Looking at the numbers above, it is evident that the Rawalpindi pitch for the first Test match was not been curated to carry on its iconic trend. This shift has seen a number of complaints not only from fans but also from some former players and cricket personalities.

"Only 13 wickets lost in 299 overs. Kind of stuff which turned people away from Test cricket. New Age Test cricket demands fair role for bowlers. Pindi pitch has been a graveyard for bowlers and diminished the competitive element in a widely looked forward to match."

Former Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat also took a dig and said: "Since Australia didn't have a warm-up match, seems like the perfect practice before a two-test series."

It remains to be seen how the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will address this for the remainder of the two Test matches which will be played in Lahore and Karachi.